NHS could suffer 'staff shortages' due to early retirements, report warns

By Marina Soteriou, 19 June 2013

More should be done to halt early retirements in the NHS to prevent staff shortages, a report on pensions has found.

Dr Helena McKeown: GPs 'trapped'

Dr Helena McKeown: GPs 'trapped'

The NHS Working Longer Review audit of existing research, which looks at evidence on the impact of working beyond aged 60, called for more support for older NHS workers.

The report, compiled by the University of Bath, backed measures such as flexible working for employees in their 50s.

It warned that government plans to hike the retirement age for NHS workers, ‘may not mean that people will choose to stay in their NHS jobs until that point’.

‘People are likely to be capable of continuing to work in their existing roles until they reach the new retirement age, but in practice may not be motivated, or otherwise able, to do so,’ the report reads.

GPC member Dr Helena McKeown said that many GPs were ‘trapped’ because they cannot afford to take early retirement.

‘We have never worked harder including when we were responsible for working on call out-of-hours,’ she said. ‘I have worked on call through four pregnancies. I have never worked harder than I do now. The workload has gotten more complex.’

The report reads: ‘A high proportion of NHS employees leave the NHS significantly before their pension age, many in their 50s. Important push influences appear to be attributable to the configuration of work, in particular the limited availability of part-time employment and current shift-working practices.

‘If current patterns of early withdrawal continue, in the context of a rising average age, as these demographics come into alignment there is a risk of future staff shortages.’

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